There’s a new book out, “The Sustainable MBA” by Giselle Weybrecht, which according to the marketing blurb I received in an email today “brings together all the pieces of the business and sustainability puzzle.”
A quick scan of the table of contents reveals chapters on accounting, economics, entrepreneurship, ethics, finance, marketing, operations, organizational behavior, and strategy.
However, there’s no chapter on information systems, i.e., the information infrastructure that will enable the capture, storage, display, reporting, and sharing of critical environmental data and information as well as analytics enabling linkage to financial metrics; that will enable collaboration within and among organizations regarding sustainability; etc. Why is this omission important?
- Reflects larger pattern of treating information systems implicitly, when they often can be make or break and should be treated explicitly (see infamous failures such as those at Nike, KMart, FBI, IRS, Denver Airport, FAA, Hilton hotels, etc.)
- Perpetuates managerial IT unconsciousness, which occurs when senior management lacks awareness of the importance of IT and its governance on business projects. As stated by David Avison and his colleagues “A poorly designed, carelessly implemented, irresponsibly managed system can lead to company failure, along with IT failure.” (and sustainability failure).
- Studying past IS project failures reveals that the top two sources of failure are not rooted in technology but are rooted in process and people issues (see Nelson’s study). Surely “The Sustainable MBA” needs to understand the process and people issues associated with IS for sustainability, e.g., carbon management systems for ensuring reliable data capture and reporting?
My chapter on IS and sustainability for the Oxford University Handbook on Business and the Environment (in process) will hopefully fill an important knowledge gap in this area.